Best Things I Ate This Month: January 2018
Yellowtail aguachile at Red O, The Capri Sandwich at Nutmeg Bakery and Café, and grass-fed steak at Urban Plates
Yellowtail Aguachile @ Red O
Red O was originally hailed as the arrival of Rick Bayless, the non-Mexican chef who’s one of the world’s best chefs of Mexican food. Truth is, Rick’s not terribly involved in this UTC-area spot anymore. So I expected to be disappointed. I need to stop expecting so much. There are a few great dishes from chefs Marc Johnson and Seth Vider—like this raw seafood creation, a riff on the classic dish of Northern Baja. Silky yellowtail sashimi is placed in a cold, spicy lime broth (the lime’s acid lightly cooks the fish), with avocado, knob onion (like a young green onion), cucumber, orange, and microgreens. Aguachile is served at a ton of San Diego Mexican restaurants, and it’s a favorite of mine. But this may be the best I’ve tried.
4340 La Jolla Village Dr., UTC area
The Capri Sandwich @ Nutmeg Bakery and Café
As a San Diego native of the Peñasquitos/Poway/Scripps Ranch area, I’ve long lamented my acute disappointment in the lack of quality restaurants. That said, I have two standbys that I return to again and again. The first is Sab E Lee in PQ, and the second is this bakery and gourmet lunch spot in Sabre Springs (right off the freeway on Poway Road). Their bread is delicious, their ingredients are top-notch, and the cooks are more than competent. Try this sandwich with roasted free-range chicken, housemade sundried tomato spread, housemade pesto, and a roasted garlic spread. Sounds like an explosion of flavor, and it is, but in a very, very good way.
12460 Sabre Springs Pkwy, Sabre Springs
Grass-Fed Steak @ Urban Plates
Urban Plates is a San Diego-based concept whose time is now—best possible ingredients, reasonably healthy (much healthier than most quick-service restaurants), sustainable as makes business sense, cooked well. They’ve got a lot of good options, but this grass-fed steak really blew me away. Grass-fed steak, while healthier (cattle are meant to eat grass, not corn, so eating their natural diet keeps them healthier), is not a chef favorite. The flavor profile just isn’t as consistent as corn-fed steak. But Urban Plates’, seared perfectly, sliced on the bias, and topped with a punchy chimichurri, blew away grass-fed steaks I’ve paid $30 for across the city.
12857 El Camino Real (Del Mar Highlands mall), Del Mar